Optimal Zone2 HR Target

Anybody has recommendations on an optimal zone2 training. Let me make the question more specific. I’m using the HR function to do indoor zone2 training. But zone2 is a band, with lower and upper limits. To make it worse : to define zone2 ‘exactly’, one would need a lab test with lactate (and even then there’s still debate where exactly it is). My question is : I worked out that my zone2 must be somewhere between 100bpm and 128bpm. With some room for an error margin in it. What would now be the HR target with the “best” expected adaptions? Is it something like 120bpm, or rather 110… 110 is clearly much “easier”.

It’s all debatable but I would say up to 120, so in our app just setting 120 should rarely go over 120. It’s better to be a little under than over (in theory and according to Maffetone).

My numbers are almost identical to yours (z2 of 105-128) and my understanding is that it is better to err on the low side of the zone than on the high side, so I’ve set my target at 111. That may be too conservative, so I’m definitely following this thread hoping to hear from those who know more than me.

No it’s not really “Zone 2” that is just the term they use to keep the idea simple, it’s your AeT or your upper aerobic limit (AeT). The whole idea is focused on your upper limit not really a Zone.

It’s better to be on the low side of your AeT which in this case is 128 (assuming you calculated it right). So max of 128 and never going over is optimal. That might mean you need to target 122-125 to make sure you don’t go over. But I don’t think there is proof that 125 is better than 111 so this might/should be fine as well. I did a lot of lower Zone 2 running and got great benefit from it. So I am just clarifying what “they” are talking about :slight_smile:

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I should even say, I was running with an upper AeT limit of 134 (at that time) and was running at 100 and saw a big benefit so this was clearly Zone 1, and I just kept getting faster and faster (but still slow :slight_smile: ) and I had already been running consistently for a few years so, it’s not like this was just new runner. So again I see nothing wrong with 111, or lower limits. Theoretically closer to AeT is better but again no proof in this.

I wish I was 30+ years younger and could go back to university. Back in the days, the technology was simply not available to do this type of complex studies. Oh I wish I could do a study with some of the non invasive lactate meters and correlate this to physiological adaptations and thus to training recommendations… There’s so much unknown in all of this. The question I got during my physiology exam from the now famous Dr. Peter Hespel was : what is EPO… We had a 1 hours in depth discussion and finished with a phylosophycal statement : it will destroy cycling… And it did… Todays science is so much more fun…

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How was your 128 calculated? I’m in this zone 2 discovery process too and my resting HR is 53 and max after 20min threshold test was 178. Only percentage of max HR way of calculating would take my zone 2 limit as low as 123bpm. Most of the other ways of calculating I have found (karvonen, HRR, British cycling method) Z2 limit is anywhere from 139 to 155 bpm.
I think I’m just going with the perceived exertion breathing test now.

Threshold shouldn’t have you hitting your max HR. You max should be higher. 20 minute warmup followed by 3 sprints with 2nd and 3rd being all out for a minute or so will. Slope mode is good for the 2nd and 3rd. I have a workout that is a test for max HR.

Sorry I meant the average for last 20 min of the test was 170 with a max of 178

If you are going at threshold that should not push you to your max even after 20 minutes or more. Most people need to do some max effort sprinting.

If you sprint at the end of the threshold interval it might but usually you are too tired to give 100% at that time.

I did the threshold test recommended on the British cycling method. Warm up 20 min, ride at a sustainable pace for 30 min then take the BPM average of last 20 min. I didn’t look at my HR numbers during the test just did it on feel and checked after. Was this not the right way?

Edit. I did sprint at the end.

Oh sorry, I did not clearly look at your numbers. I see you are using thresholdHR to determine zone 2, not max HR, so that is fine :slight_smile: it might even be better.

Yeah it was threshold HR for most of the calculations in my first post. Interestingly Maffetone puts me at 136 for Z2 upper limit. I am trying my best to use that a my guidance

Yes I would compare on a ramp going between 130 and 155 and see where you notice a small change in breathing while talking, and round down a bit.

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I just lowered that bottom number to 130 :slight_smile: for the test.

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The Maffetone calculation method. After that the breathing validation. That brough me to 128. So I put the HR target at 120 (usually). This means it sometimes jumps to 123-124, which is not a problem. I now started putting it at 110, just playing around a bit. It’s all not very scientific, but I’m not training to beat Pogacar :slight_smile: Part of it is fun to see what happens over a 4 weeks period. If I would want a more accurate number, I would need to go to a lab to do lactate tests. Which I can’t be bothered with to be honest.
Last winter I did almost exclusively Zone2. Not yet using HR, since Trainerday didn’t have that functionality yet. I managed to do the Gran Fondo of the Col de la Loze this summer while “enjoying” the experience. Which is good enough for me. This winter I’m making a change. I’m pretty much riding 6 days out of 7. 4 days Zone2, 2 days some sort of SST or HIIT (or an ad hoc combination). Started doing that beginning of October when the weather turned bad. It’s a game changer. Looking forward to the summer for a lot of reasons now :slight_smile:

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I would recommend starting with the basic Maffetone calculation and use that as a HR cap. Set your target about 5 bpm lower and allow +/- 5bpm as a zone.
While becoming more experienced at training in this zone, pay attention to your breathing. If the target is correct you will start to notice, after several weeks, that you can distinct two breathing patterns within that zone. In the lower region, you will feel very comfortable and breathing will be 95% steady. In the higher region you will notice some small irregularities in your breathing pattern. Every now and then, a deeper breath, especially when breathing out. That’s the point where you need to blow off some more CO2. It’s really subtle and you will not notice if you don’t pay attention. But if you do pay attention, you will be able to guess your HR, without looking at your device, within 1 or 2 bpm. It takes some time but being able to workout almost purely based on ‘feel’ makes it even more enjoyable. You get the feeling that YOU are in control of your work and not your device. The feeling of freedom and not needing to do what anyone or anything is telling you to do is, at least for me, even more relaxing.


Which one do you take as your 'target" ? The “easy breathing” one or the “irregular” one? That was exactly my initial point :slight_smile: : when I put my target at 110, I’m in the easy, enjoyable zone. When It put it at 120, it’s EXACTLY like you describe. I’m curious for your opinion !

Zone2 training is exactly what it says, it’s a zone.
I do have my HR limits on my device set at 180 - age - 10 to 180 - age. The breathing pattern is sort of a double check. When breathing becomes ‘irregular’ I back off a bit on longer Z2 workouts. On shorter onces I may allow more time at that ‘higher’ limit. But it is important to work the whole zone. That will make you more efficient over the entire zone. It may sound somewhat surprising but even heartrates around 100 can be very effective, if they are long enough. It’s a saying for marathoners and ultra athletes: as soon as your HR reaches 3 digits, you are training long event endurance…
If you see, after several months, that the breathing pattern shifts to slightly higher HR, it means that you have improved your AeT point and you can shift your zone a bit up. That’s basically what the +5 in MAF definition means. Several years of consistent training without negative effects. But I’m pretty sure that a lot of people ‘abuse’ that +5 and then claim that the system isn’t working. It’s all about our ego’s :wink:
I do have the experience that my MAF HR is slightly higher in cycling compared to running. But I have almost 20 years cycling experience and only about 3 years of running.